May 9, 2009 in Washington Voices

Baseball, brotherhood a winning combination

Early training paying off for Motsinger boys
Steve Christilaw Correspondent
 
J. Bart Rayniak photo

Brothers Nicholas Motsinger, a U-Hi sophomore, and Nathan Motsinger, a Gonzaga Prep senior, are the best hitters at their schools as well as among the GSL batting leaders this spring.
(Full-size photo)

Randy Motsinger grew up with an abiding love for the game of baseball, a passion he began sharing with his two sons early in their lives.

The fact that each son is a leading hitter at his respective Greater Spokane League school is a testament to just how deeply that love grew.

“I think some my earliest memories are playing baseball with my dad as my coach,” Gonzaga Prep senior Nathan said. “I think I must have been all of maybe 5 years old.”

Nick, a sophomore at University High School, started even earlier.

“I remember going to all my brother’s games and I knew right away that I wanted to play, too,” he explained.

Nathan, with a .395 batting average, is a leading hitter for Gonzaga Prep, where the senior plays third base when he’s not pitching for the Bullpups. Nick, a sophomore second baseman/shortstop for the defending GSL champion Titans, boasts a .469 batting average and is tied for the league lead with teammate Jake Olsufka with 27 runs scored in his first varsity season.

Each has a similar swing at the plate, although with one significant difference.

“I sometimes think that’s the only difference between our swings: Nathan hits from the right side and I hit from the left,” Nick said. “I guess you could say we’re mirror images of each other.”

Lefty or righty, the brothers work at their game.

“I think the key to their success has been a lot of hard work,” their father said. “They both started playing the game early on and they played baseball every summer growing up and on into their respective high school programs.

“A couple years ago we put up a batting cage in the backyard and they’re both out there quite a bit. I think they’ve worn out my arm throwing batting practice.”

The brothers chose different high schools. Both attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Spokane Valley. Nathan continued on and opted to attend Gonzaga Prep along with most of his friends. Nick, meanwhile, switched to Horizon Middle School and chose to attend U-Hi with his friends.

The brothers insist that, while they are fierce competitors, the rivalry is friendly.

“There are some bragging rights involved with the two of us,” Nathan said. “I’m sure Nick will tell you about the hit he got off me when we played against them. But for the most part, when we come home at the end of the day we talk over the game or the practice we just had.”

“I think one of the things that has made me into a better player has been having my brother to work with and to help me be a better player,” Nick said. “We’re always there to help pick each other up.”

And that hit he got off his big brother?

“Oh, I was doing some bragging about that afterward,” Nick said. “Sure.”

The brothers spend countless hours in their backyard cage, working on their hitting. Practice just doesn’t always allow for all the at-bats they need, each insists.

But the cage did not get off to the best start, their father explained.

“The first day we got it up, the boys got in it and Nick decided he didn’t need to throw from behind the screen,” Randy said. “Nathan hit a line drive right back at him and fractured his nose. We ended up in the emergency room.”

The family has spent the first half of every summer wrapped up in baseball. Between two GSL teams to follow and separate summer league teams to feed, the Motsingers have logged more travel than most baseball families.

“We have a couple ways of deciding which game we’re going to go watch,” Randy said. “Sometimes we’ll go to the game that’s the closest and sometimes it’s just a matter of ‘You saw his game last time; come see mine.’ If Nathan is pitching, I will generally go watch him play. My wife, Margy, gets a little too nervous when he’s pitching.”

The choices will be easier this summer. Nathan said he will not play summer baseball this year, choosing instead to work and make a little money for when he starts classes at Seattle University in the fall.

Nick, meanwhile, made the roster for the Cannons Class 3A American Legion team.

“I’m one of just two sophomores on the University varsity,” he said. “I am very aware of just what an opportunity I have to improve my game and take it to the next level. Now to get the chance to play for the Cannons is another chance to do the same thing. I’m excited about it.”

Both brothers are thankful to have had the bond of baseball.

“I think it’s something that has really brought our family together,” Nathan said. “My dad was my first coach and he’s always been there to help whenever I’ve asked. I know it’s brought us closer together.”

Nick agrees.

“I know it brings us together,” he said. “I know I always have my family in my corner, pulling for me. And I know they’re always there to help me. If I have a bad game or a bad practice, they’re always there for me.

“And my mom, too, probably knows more about baseball than most moms. She’s seen so much baseball and learned so much about the game that she’s given us both some very good advice.”

Contact Steve Christilaw by e-mail at schristilaw@msn.com.


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